March 19, 2012
Learning about various cultures is always fun and enlightening, not just for adults – but kids as well. This spring, people around the world will participate in activities and fun. From the ancient to the modern, these spring traditions and festivals may inspire something new you’ll want to try with your family.
India: In the spring, north India celebrates a festival called Holi. The celebration is marked by lighting bonfires called Holika. Both children and adults chase each other and throw brightly colored water and water balloons at each other. It is a day when Indians shed their inhibitions regarding caste differences. In the afternoon everyone cleans up and partakes in festive meals. This is the time when mustard fields are in full bloom, appearing as yellow carpets, hence the choice of yellow clothing for this holiday. In Jaipur you will find lavishly painted elephants on the occasion of Holi.
China: The Chinese celebrate the Qingming Festival that occurs around April 5th, on the 104th day after the winter solstice. People visit the graves and burial grounds of their ancestors, sweep the tombs, and offer food and drink to the ancestors. It is also a time of family outings, singing, dancing, and the start of spring plowing.
Australia: The Floriade, a grand floral display festival, began in 1988 and became an annual celebration. It is a world class floral spectacular with more than one million blooms and a month long festival filled with music, cultural celebrations, horticultural workshops, artistic displays, entertainment, and recreational activities. Spring comes at a different time in Australia, so the festival is actually celebrated in September and October.
Russia: The Russians celebrate Maslenitsa or ‘Pancake week’ – a traditional folk holiday symbolizing the end of winter. The delicious part of the festival are the bliny, or Russian crepes/pancakes, resembling the sun. The holiday has pagan roots dating back to about 500 AD and subsequently was adopted by Christians. Aside from pancake indulging you will find fist fighting, performing bears, bonfires, and sled rides.
France: The Foir de Paris, or Paris Fair, takes place in April and May. It is a place to discover the latest innovations, the most unusual inventions, latest trends in interior design, and creative products. A myriad of exhibitors at the enormous Porte de Versailles will take an entire day or two to explore.
Finland, Sweden, Czech, Estonia, and Germany: These countries all celebrate a version of the Walpurgis Night, April 30th to May 1st. In Finland it is the biggest carnival-style festival held on the streets of Finland’s towns and cities. May 1st is traditionally celebrated with a picnic. In Sweden the celebrations vary from region to region. One of the main traditions is to light bonfires. It is usually accompanied by copious amounts of wine or alcohol. It is widely celebrated by university and college students in these countries.
What spring traditions do you celebrate in your culture? Do you remember any family traditions from your childhood?